Rebuttal of “Twittering in worship”

Hi all, as promised, here is the rebuttal that I sent to the editor of the Methodist Message regarding Dr Goh’s article. (See below for The Editor’s reply).

Disclaimer: I cannot stress this enough: I agree that Twitter can be a distraction, just as talking, or sms-ing during worship can be distractions. My main objections with the article were the arguments he used to substantiate his point.

So here are Dr Goh’s arguments, and my subsequent rebuttal:

1) Moods and feelings have no part in worship, and Twitter is all about your own feelings and emotions.

We are commanded to worship God with our emotions "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27).

When David dances with joy in his linen in 2 Samuel 6, or when Isaiah feels guilt at having seen the living God in Isaiah 6, are their personal emotions not a valid  essential component of their worship? They are both means by which David and Isaiah express their response to the Glory of God.

2) Twitter is about the self, and that is not right in corporate worship.

This is a gross misunderstanding of Twitter. Twitter is merely a tool. You can use it to draw attention to yourself, or you can use it to draw attention to God.

Using this same argument, would not preaching from a stage or a pulpit be said to be drawing attention to the preacher, and not to God? Should we abolish it from our worship services? Surely not!

3) It is distracting and disrespectful to God.

Only if you let it be. If you use if for personal communication e.g. “hey guys where shall we go for lunch later?”, yes, it is distracting.

Twitter is a tool. The result is not a reflection of the condition of the tool – it is a reflection of the condition of the heart of the user.

4) It fails the condition of worship being inclusive because some people can’t or don’t know how to use Twitter.

I can’t believe he actually used this as an argument. Shall we exclude dumb people who cannot sing hymns? Shall we exclude the lame because they cannot stand? Or the blind because they cannot read our liturgy? Enough said.

5) Worship is not virtual, it is physical – we should be present in worship.

Twittering about the sermon may actually increase my levels of engagement with the worship service. Just as taking notes helps one to remember the applicable points of the pastor’s sermon, Twittering forces you to listen, process, and reproduce what the preacher is saying.

It really depends on how you use Twitter.

6) God does not have a Twitter account.

*Slaps head*. Do I really have to explain this one?

Conclusion

There are ways in which Twitter can be creatively used in church. Dr Goh has simply dismissed Twitter without examining the ways in which Churches can and are creatively using Twitter to engage youth during a service.

As mentioned, the editor, Mr Peter Teo, did reply and thanked me “for my views”. He also asked me to write a 500 word article supporting the use of Twitter in church/worship.

I will publish that 500 word article in my next blog post, so stay tuned!

What do you think of Dr Goh’s arguments? Leave a comment.

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~ by jonhyz on November 10, 2009.

8 Responses to “Rebuttal of “Twittering in worship””

  1. Kind of reminds me of those lecturers who insist that taking notes in class is a distraction 😛 I honestly can’t see the difference between taking notes on paper and discussing them with friends later, and taking notes in the twitter-sphere and discussing them with friends later?

  2. Jon I agree with you!
    “It really depends on how you use Twitter.” – Totally.

  3. Agree tt the bottom line simply is tt twitter is a tool..so like all tools/media/channels it depends on hw it’s used 🙂

    However perhaps we can debate whether twitter posts shld b projected on screens real-time tho? Cos then there is the potential of it becoming a distraction if there r members of the congregation (or even ppl nt attending e service then) tweeting inappropriate things?
    Would like to hear views on this pls 🙂

    Cheers!

  4. Nice one. Looking forward to reading your proper rebuttal.

  5. Full agree with notetaking increasing engagement with sermon message, from personal experience. Not sure about Twitter use for notes though – basically, besides it being a tool, one’s motivation for using Twitter during worship is more important. I don’t believe Twitter is as neutral as you make it – it has a fundamentally narcissitic foundation – folks Tweet cos they want people to pay attention to what they are saying or who they are. Also ask – do you really need to broadcast our notes in 140-character bursts? For what purpose? Given the nature of Twitter, tweets get rapidly lost in the Tweetstream unless you are hashtagging like crazy AND your audience is actually interested in searching for this topic.
    One could say instead, write the notes then blog it – it becomes a coherent commentary then and has a stronger sense of place and purpose (cf permalinks, RSS feeds, etc).
    Twitter prayers are an intriguing idea – I’d like to see how that would work. Anonymizing the requests (cos @names are actually not anonymous) would be a challenge.
    Thanks for the thinking. I do agree that some of the good doctor’s points are head-slapping ‘what’? moments.

    • hi guan, thanks for the comments!

      true that – isn’t all communication in some way drawing attention to yourself? after all, you need people to pay attention first right?

      but you’re right. i don’t deny that the way most people use twitter is narcissistic – just that you *can* use it for other purposes during a worship service. i use my @turnyourears account for primarily for sharing information that i think people will be interested in.

      re:tweet notes. my tweets are posted on my facebook status, and i find that it does generate conversation among my “friends”.

      if Twitter/Facebook is about OUR lives, and OUR lives are about JESUS, then i think that Twitter/Facebook should show other people that we are very passionate about JESUS. that *can* include tweeting sermon notes, as well as other things.

  6. […] Jonathan’s rebuttal took two forms: first, an informal one on his blog, and second, a formal article submitted for publication. Both are excellent, and I commend them to […]

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